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University of Toronto St. George

*I was unable to attend this lecture, but a fellow classmate was kind enough to send a copy of their notes for this lecture HIS311 July 17 Lecture: “The Old Smoothie”: The Pearson Years, 1963-68 th Exam is on Wednesday, August 14 from 7-10 PM at STVLAD. Professor will give a list of possible short answer and essay questions on the course website, all questions will come from this list. Pearson was born in 1897 and died in 1972. He was Secretary of State for External Affairs from 1948-57. He was referred to as “old smoothie” as an ironic term because he was anything but smooth. He was an awkward politician. He became the leader of the liberal party in 1957 and held it until his retirement in 1968. His reign as PM lasted from 1963-68. Pearson never had a majority government throughout his career. Lester was also called “Mike”, a nickname he got while serving in the air force during WWI. This can cause some confusion as records go from Lester to Mike. Pearson’s campaign was against nuclear weapons but in January of 1963 he reversed his position. He said that Canada under Diefenbaker had already agreed to take on nuclear arms and he said that after attaining the arms Canada could still try to promote peace in the world. This change of opinion didn’t affect his popularity much because the majority of Canadians at the time were for nuclear armament. Diefenbaker had also waffled on the nuclear question and as a result some of his ministers reigned before the 1963 election. The U.S. thought that Pearson would be easier to deal with so they were in favour of him winning the election. President Kennedy actually called Pearson to give him advice but Pearson correctly told JFK that he shouldn’t talk to him lest the public find out about their private conversations. This American support for Pearson caused Diefenbaker to proclaim “They’re all against me”. Diefenbaker also referred to Pearson as “The American Candidate” because of the U.S. support for Pearson. Pearson had some triumphs in domestic affairs but he never enjoyed many foreign affairs successes when in office. Pearson was dealing with a changing world which he didn’t understand. Pearson established the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) in 1965 and the Medical Care Act of 1968. These achievements were overshadowed by Pearson’s many corrupt ministers. He did not seem to have control over his own party and corruption was rampant. Pearson was too agreeable and hardly took a stand on an issue. After the election JFK invited Pearson down to his property in the States and they hit it off immediately. It was at this meeting that Pearson agreed to take on nuclear arms. Pearson also advised Kennedy to get out of the Vietnam war, Kennedy agreed with Pearson that they should withdraw, but he was unsure about how to end their commitments. When Pearson returned home he and his Finance Minister Walter Gordon drafted The Gordon Budget, 1963. This budget was protective of Canadian industries and was viewed as anti-American. After complaints by the United States Pearson removed many of the aspects of the budget that angered the Americans. This made Pearson look weak in the public eye and Gordon was unhappy with his budget being altered. Cyprus – In 1964 the former British colony Cyprus, which was predominantly Greek but with a Turkish minority, was nearing civil unrest. Both Greece and Turkey were NATO allies at the time and even though Cyprus was independent of them there were fears that a war in Cyprus would bring Turkey and Greece to blows. Canada masterminded an intervention which was an initial success. The Secretary of State for External Affairs Paul Martin Sr. (Father of future PM Paul Martin Jr.) largely created the plan for NATO troops to get between the fighting sides. Initially this plan worked but they could not bring the two sides to the table. Efforts in Cyprus lasted from 1964 to 1993. Cyprus showed the shortcomings of peace missions abroad, conflicts could be temporarily averted but if the sides weren’t willing to talk then it was a waste of money. Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963 and his VP Lyndon B. Johnson took office in the U.S. Pearson and LBJ first met at Kennedy’s funeral. In January of 1964 the two men struck the Columbia River Treaty. Americans wanted to use the Columbia River on the BC border for hydro energy. Canada agreed to let the U.S. develop the river if Canada received 50% of the energy produced by the hydro dams. The U.S. also had to pay royalties to British Columbia. This treaty was important mostly as a gesture of good will from LBJ to Pearson. Their relationship would go south from here onwards. In 1965 the two sides agreed to the Auto Pact. This pact dealt with huge disparities in the auto and auto parts trade between the two countries. Manufacturers in the United States would sell their product at a lower price in Canada than they would in the U.S. This pact made it so prices remained constant for both sides of the border. Two thirds of the trade deficit in Canada was a result of the unbalance auto
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